In order to provide The New Mutants with a proper atmosphere, the production made a real effort to find a special place to shoot the film, and the team ended up finding a great one. The majority of the comic book movie was shot at the Medfield State Hospital outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and part of the charm of the place is the fact that it used to be a real psychiatric facility. It ended up being a great setting and environment for the feature, but apparently also an effectively creepy one, as I learned talking to star Henry Zaga last week.
Having had the chance to visit the New Mutants set in person when it was still in production three years ago, I have some first-hand experience witnessing the creepiness of Medfield State Hospital, which is why I felt compelled to ask Henry Zaga about it as a movie set. The actor explained that there are other members of the cast and crew who have their own tales to tell, but that he has his own eerie incident when he got a whiff of something on set that evidently disturbed him to a degree. Said the actor,
Not with me, but a lot of people had some crazy stories happened to them. Dude, I was having so much fun. I was really having a blast; I was the class clown as [my character] Roberto and as Henry, like truly I'm having a great time. But every now and again I'd get a smell of something really weird that wasn't like anything I've ever smelled before in my life. And I'm like, 'What is it here? What is this? There's something here right now.'
Could it have been the odor of ectoplasm from a spirit passing through the room? Maybe something sinister from beneath the floor boards? It’s a mystery without an answer.
Evidently Henry Zaga didn’t exactly feel the desire to go full Scooby-Doo and investigate, but the experience did leave a major impression – specifically a moment of clarity where he found himself thinking about all the things that happened where he was standing at any particular moment when the Medfield State Hospital was still in operation. Said Zaga,
It was that wake up moment: you're in a mental Institute. People have died. There's a lot of things that's happened here. So yeah, that was my experience.
Extra fact: the hospital is actually home to its very own cemetery with nearly 850 gravesites – which were actually left unmarked for years. So when Henry Zaga talks about people actually dying there, he isn’t kidding.
The New Mutants wasn’t the first film to shoot at Medfield State Hospital, as Martin Scorsese and his crew made Shutter Island there, and director Richard Kelly used it for sequences in his 2009 thriller The Box. The Marvel Comics movie probably won’t be the last either, as when it comes to making creepy movies, it’s not exactly hard to understand the location’s appeal.